Book Review

How to Pronounce Knife Review


In this collection of short stories, different characters share their experiences of struggling to find their bearings in an unfamiliar place. This author portrays the priorities of life through these many different characters’ raw and very real storylines.

My Thoughts 

So I’m not the biggest fan of short story collections because I always need more time in book worlds and characters. However, I read the title and the synopsis of this book and I just had to read it. As an ESL teacher, it hit home for me and I really needed to see where this author was going with it. I am so happy I read it although I don’t think I will be revisiting this genre anytime soon. I was right, I wanted to know more about the characters and the ending because the stories were just too short. 

This collection of short stories was such a beautiful beautiful BEAUTIFUL book and I absolutely adored it. The setting of the book is not stated at all, but you get the sense that it takes place in a country that speaks English and makes life extremely difficult for those that don’t understand the language so I’m guessing the United States…. I’m not completely sure though. 

This title reminded me of my students so much and I was almost feeling homesick because this pandemic has changed my teaching life completely. A lot of the dynamic of my teaching has become so difficult especially because of miscommunication. This book goes into this and into how a lot of people struggle with the language especially mispronunciation of words. I have this problem all the time with my students and it was almost like coming home for me. I just miss my students so much. 

This collection was also extremely short segments of people’s lives and it was a quick and interesting read for me. It shares the emotions and the perspectives of multiple people who experience a sense of loneliness and feeling other because of language and cultural barriers. This author has such a gift of sending a very well constructed and powerful message with just a few words. It was a gorgeous lyrical piece that a lot of people will relate to. 

It also introduced me to the culture of Laos and that was lovely for me. I almost knew nothing about this culture to my chagrin, but I know a lot more about their culture and their values and practices that were so intriguing to me. I also became much more conscious of my student’s perspectives about how sometimes people that know a language and other people don’t, they hold it over their head and make them feel terrible. It made me so much more aware and will change the way I act. 

My Book Rating

5/5 Book World  

5/5 Plot

5/5 Characters

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book Details

How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa 

Genre: Short Story Fiction  

Published on April 21, 2020 by Little, Brown and Company 

Copy Read: Hardcover 

Pages: 192 

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